Dear The Writer’s Voice Judges:
Terror. Callousness. Denial. Rebellion. How the four teenage children of leaders in the duchy and the neighboring empire of Hanaobi choose to adapt to their nefarious parents’ whims is a matter of survival.
Seventeen-year-old Rohesia, daughter of the duke, spends her days hunting “outsiders” with different faces, fugitives who’ve snuck onto her father’s island duchy. That she lives when even children who resemble her are subject to death hardens her heart to tackle the task.
Fastello is the sixteen-year-old son of the “king” of the raiders who steal from the rich and share with the poor. But as of late, few aristocrats have escaped to tell the tale of the forest-dwelling thieves, and Fastello questions what his peoples’ increasingly wicked methods of survival have cost them.
At the tower beyond the forests, sixteen-year-old Cateline, favorite pupil of her religion’s leader, worships the goddess of the night. An orphan raised by a convent of mothers, Cateline can think of no higher aim in life than to serve her religion, even if it means turning a blind eye to the suffering of other orphans under the mothers’ care.
Across the waters in Hanaobi, seventeen-year-old Kojiro, new heir to the empire, must figure out not only how to rule, but also how to avenge his people against the “barbarians” who live in the duchy, all while terrified the empress, his own mother, might rather see him die than succeed.
A YA version of Game of Thrones meets Marvel Comics’ Runaways, Fall Far From the Tree is a character-driven YA fantasy complete at 75,000 words. A self-contained novel, it leaves room for one sequel and switches between the points of view of four characters, each the progeny of malevolent parents.
I am the author of Nobody’s Goddess (formerly known as The Veiled Man’s Goddess trilogy), the first in a YA fantasy romance series that debuts in 2015 with Month9Books. I am also a freelance writer with over eight years of experience and an honors degree in English, and I was first published in a national scholarly journal, The Concord Review, while in high school.
Thank you for your consideration. Below are the first 250 words.
I’d lived only five winters the first time I saw an infant drowned.
I felt Father’s hand on my shoulder as the horse jostled us slightly, shaking her head and whipping the tips of her silky black mane across my eyes. Father noticed the instinct that took over, the mere moment my eyelids closed despite how hard I’d fought to keep them open. “Watch, Rohesia. Burn the moment into your mind.”
The shrieking woman held aloft by two soldiers kicked her legs, sending her skirt upward. I noticed the mud that collected along the hem, the strands of straw-colored hair that escaped her kerchief and swung wildly across her mouth. The hair blew with each shriek like curtains in the breeze, the skirt a gale that tore through a field of wheat, the woman the only source of movement beyond the scuffing hooves of the horses beside me.
“The child, Rohesia. Not the mother.”
The soldier by the river tossed the tattered cloth that had wrapped the baby to the ground and held the crying infant as far out in front of him as his stocky arms would allow. One gauntlet supported the baby’s head and neck, the other gripped the child’s body loosely, and I saw one impossibly small leg kick upward vainly.
The horse tossed her mane again, whipping the black hair across my eyes, but I leaned sideways and turned my head away so I wouldn’t close them.